Have I ever told you the story of the lady chasing the parrot without any pants on?

Have I ever told you the story of the lady chasing the parrot without any pants on?

Every once in awhile, I find myself saying and experiencing something that seems like it’s outside of reality. A few years ago, I was spending a vacation with some great friends in Washington. I rushed around that week marking as many things off of my bucket list as possible.

I hiked in Mount Rainier. I was fascinated as I stood on a pile of snow in shorts and t-shirts. I was even more amazed at a double rainbow that seemed to appear just for me and my moment.

The next day I was able to stand on the beach and listen to the waves crash onto shore.

But my plan from the beginning was to go to Pike’s Place, drink a Starbucks, and watch them throw a fish. And, it was everything I had hoped for. I stood outside of Starbucks with my coffee in hand and listened to a barbershop quartet serenade the pedestrians as they walked by. I walked through all the unique handmade booths and fell in love with the DIY candles and the fresh flowers. I took in all the unique people, art, and crafts.

And…of course…it rained a little!

After the rain let up, we began our stroll again. It was perfect. I was taken it all in, but the perfection was interrupted abruptly with, “Pauley come back.” It was repeated at a loud decibel, over and over. As I looked over, I did a double take. A woman was chasing a parrot. She would yell at “Pauley,” he would wait for her to get close, and as soon as she thought he was in reach he would take off again (and I’m pretty sure if he could smirk, he would have). This happened over and over again.

As I watched this happen, I realized this lady chasing the parrot didn’t have pants on! I was speechless. It was a moment I thought only happened on TV sitcoms; a pant-less woman chasing a parrot through the middle of a tourist packed park! And the scene kept going.

I watched the scene play out in front me, captivated by what was happening. And, that’s when I noticed it. Something even more surprising. The lady hadn’t had time to wear her pants out of the house, but she did have enough time to throw them over her shoulder in the shuffle. So, as she would chase the Pauley the pants would slide down her shoulder and she would push them back up and continue her pursuit.

I don’t think she ever caught Pauley. He just kept moving up the street with her following behind him.

I did learn a few lessons that day:

1. Traveling leads you to unexpected places.
2. Life is constantly surprising, breathtaking, and amazing, and often in ways you didn’t anticipate.
3. Probably the most important life lessons of all was never leave the house without your pants!

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Turbulence sometimes shakes us up!

Turbulence sometimes shakes us up!
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” -Peter Drucker

Surrounded by People and Esquire magazines, slouching teenagers, and businessmen who look busy but are secretly playing video games on their iphones and ipads, I indifferently walked down the aisle of the plane with starbucks in one hand and a David Baldacci novel in the other, looking for which two people I was going to intrude on because they insist on setting by the window and the aisle (thank you Southwest for not assigning seats). A woman generously offered to move over so I could set on the aisle, since the man by the window was her hubby. I smiled and nodded and positioned myself leisurely in my seat. The cabin smelled of Chili’s seasoning due to it being strategically placed next to our gate for impulsive buyers. There was a tad bit of apprehension, as everyone glanced out the windows at the dark sky and the storm looming in the distance. That apprehension only grew when the captain announced overhead that everyone needed to find a seat quickly or he couldn’t guarantee a take off.

But my apprehension wasn’t coming from the flight or the possibility of storms, at least not the literal storms. The apprehension was coming from realizing indifference was settling in my attitude.

Indifference! It’s my weakness, my coping skill, my defense. It’s easy to go to it when I’m too stressed. It’s easy to go to when my mind and my heart can’t seem to match up. It’s easy to go to when I can’t find the balance.

Unfortunately, once I let it into my life in one area, it’s easy to let it seep into other areas. I found myself battling when is the right time to speak up and when is the right time to be still. And, with the chaos of the thoughts it was just easier to let it move into an “I can’t care” mode.

I can’t care then started becoming the norm the past few weeks. Slower to hang out with people. Slower to be motivated. Slower to let myself be excited. I sat in my seat realizing that I should be more excited about the fact that I’m going to a new place. I should be honored to be speaking at a conference on behalf of TCH. I should be curious about the other professionals I will be meeting. I definitely should not be setting completely indifferent.

And almost as quickly as it set in, a switch went off. The plane ride was turbulent and unpredictable and I cared. I sat with what I’m assuming to other people was an awkward smile on my face, because I realized I’d rather experience the turbulence than set safely in the indifference.

**I reserve the right to edit this tomorrow, when I’m not distracted by the view of my hotel room and the enjoyment of my mini vacation

I Hate Dating’s Guts!

Ah, that word. The word that creates anxiety, excitement, apprehension, optimism just by its mere existence.

This week I found myself preparing for “the word.” I did what every girl is suppose to do. I asked what I should wear, how I should fix my hair, clarified I was meeting at a neutral location, and reinforced that I would call with information.

I should have rushed home. I knew this in my mind but found myself instead “mosying” home. After reading too long, I realized I may not have left as much time to get ready as I hoped. I should have got anxious, but instead caught myself shrugging my shoulders and just getting to work. The result, great hair that I will never accomplish again, no matter how much I practice or try.

I started up the stairs, only to drop my phone. Since this isn’t the first time, I no longer have a back so the battery flew out. As I reach down to save it, my purse somehow falls off of my shoulder and flies back down the stairs. Oh wait…it gets better. It wasn’t zipped! So, all of my belongings are now upended and spread out all the way down the stairs.

I sigh and start putting myself back together again. This should clearly create anxiety, right? But I’m still not.

I finally make it to my car and head down the street. But wait, what is that I see; flashing red lights behind me. They must surely be receiving a call, since I’m going all of 30 miles an hour. I pull slowly over thinking he will go around me. No such luck! Apparently, you can be pulled over for the light on your license plate going out!

Here’s the best part. Remember how my purse blew up, well now I’m pulled over and my license and insurance card is nowhere to be found! I think, with all of the chaos, the police officer was sorry he pulled me over. He fixed me up and then let me go on my way.

Still no anxiety. A slight head nod, but no anxiety.

That was when it dawned on me. The phrase “it’s not you, it’s me,” was me. It wasn’t an excuse, or said to soften a blow. It really was me. The date and The Date was fine. That wasn’t the problem.
The problem is that I have somehow created a expectation, a dynamic, that may be unfair and unrealistic. You then have to choose between being disappointed or being the disappointment. We over analyze and put up unintentional stumbling blocks: Do I have enough time? Can I be enough? Will he be understanding and thoughtful? Stumbling block after internal stumbling block!

The best defense, indifference.

I shared this story and profound insight with my sister and her response was, “I hate dating’s guts!”

I guess that sums it up.

Culture Shock Experienced at Sam’s Club

In was a Saturday afternoon, much like any other.  After hours of trying to convince myself to brave the frigid cold and get out from under the covers, Sherrita and I began a texting war attempting to motivate one another to do something, anything, after a long work week.  We finally decided sushi was reason enough and agreed to meet.  We each arrived a half an hour late, her do to forgetfulness and having to backtrack and me do to lack of GPS and sense of direction, and laughed as we realized both behaviors should have been predicted.

We both carried in our books, secretly knowing that we had too much catching up to do to actually study and went to what can now be dubbed our booth.  As expected, we talked and talked and talked.  And then, as expected, we both convinced one another to run errands with each other.  My “errand” was looking for shoes, shocking, and hers was going to Sam’s Club on a Saturday afternoon.  That should show our level of friendship!

We pulled up and were met with a full spectrum of cultures.  Everyone had their own methods of parking, pushing their carts, even how to stand in line.  Each person representing a unique culture, yet somehow driven by the culture of American consumerism. 

And, within an instant, I was confronted with my own unintentional stereotypes.

I quickly went to frustration as lines weren’t going the direction I thought they should go, people pushed past me without an “excuse me” or “sorry,”  and there was no systematic way to go up and down the aisles.  Almost as quickly as the frustration came, another realization came as well.  The realization that my frustration came because I wanted everyone to do things my way.  Instead of embracing and cherishing that I was surrounded by people of different socio-economic backgrounds, races, and cultures, all I could focus on was getting what I wanted when I wanted it (guess we could go back to that consumerism I was talking about earlier and add self-centeredness to the mix).  I could have been mesmerized that I heard three different languages in the course of 30 minutes, instead of annoyed that I couldn’t get around their cart. 

Once the realization came, my perspective changed.  I became patient and flexible.  I became friendly and engaging.  And, surprisingly, I received the same. 

I know the story should stop there, but if I didn’t include this last part I would be doing a huge disservice. 

The best part of Sherrita is that she has a big personality.  She funny, loud at times (you know it’s true), confident, and completely in control of herself.  Well…after my little epiphany, we were having a great time.  We were joking off, meeting new people, and enjoying the bargains.  Sherrita was pushing the cart in front of me, when I saw exactly what I needed.  Before I knew it, I exclaimed, “oh, big sexy,”  referring to my favorite hair products.  I grabbed it just as Sherrita turned around.  She looked at me and immediately knew that I was referring to hairspray.  I looked at her and immediately knew that when I said “big sexy” she thought I was talking about her! 

Both of us burst into laughter, while the people from all different cultures joined us!

 

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The Non-Profit Stakeout

Every once in awhile I find myself roped into an awkward moment of not knowing. What I mean is I often find myself in places I don’t know, with people I don’t know, doing things I don’t know how to do. And, before you ask, I’m not talking about a life that could lead to an after school special. I’m talking about the life of a director of a non-profit.

Truth be told, I rarely know what is going on, because life often goes something like this:

Laura F.: What are you doing tonight?
Me: Nothing really.
Laura F.: Do you want to go with me to a party…a presentation…a fundraiser…any other event you can imagine (I now affectionately call this scenario “Adventures with Laura.”)
Me (after contemplating my extensive social life and checking my datebook): Sure.

I then start the ever important dialogue with, “what should I wear.” Her response is usually a shrug of the shoulders because she has already chosen her attire of leggings with knee high boots and a long blouse. If only life were that easy. I then go through my car, because even though I now have a place to call home I still live out of it, picking and choosing the best outfit for an uncertain
destination and group of people.

She always drives because, well I already told you, I live out of my car.

But, the best part of our adventure starts upon arrival. We rarely know exactly where we are going, so we start a guessing game from the beginning. Once we reach what we think is our destination, we begin what I now affectionately call “The Non-Profit Stakeout.” As I go to reach for the door handle, I hear, “wait.” We must first search our perimeter. Not for danger lurking around the corner or to catch someone doing something sneaky. NO! We search our perimeter to determine if we recognize anyone or for any clue that will lead us to what to expect of this little adventure.

We set patiently (I may be a tad bit ansy) watching the first few cars pull up to see if we have the right place and to gage what our audience might be. After much anticipation, she’s scoped it out and ready to go, so in synchronized form we take one more glance in the mirror to adjust make-up, hair, and clothing and begin the journey to the entrance.

We both know we have no idea what is waiting behind that front door and we both know she hasn’t completely filled me in on everything
she might already know in fear that I could possibly say no (hasn’t happened yet, but it could).

These stake-outs have led to speaking with sisters, hanging out at a margarita holiday party, doing community seminars in the middle of nowhere, and, in her case, a old ladies slumber party. We’ve also experienced criticisms, stereotyping, and in one case a gentlemen who liked to get a little too close to my backside.

We walk in completely unaware of what could happen, but with each door we walk through I notice a few things:

1. There are a lot of different types of people that want to be a part of what we are doing.
2. For every inconsiderate action, comment, and attitude we’ve encountered there has always been someone who came to our defense.
3. Although, we often see darkness and depravity, it doesn’t compare to the number of people we encounter who are gracious and compassionate

And, perhaps most importantly, I know that when Laura says, “what are you doing tonight,” it’s going to be an adventure.

The Stink That Stops You

After a year’s of anticipation (and by anticipation I mean “huh, I’d kind of like to know how that ends”), I found myself setting with my mom and my sister watching The Mentalist. I know, I know…so. But, you see this was the episode where Red John would finally (and by finally I mean “huh, they still haven’t figured that out”) would be revealed. The entire premise of the show rested on this one episode.

And, it was pretty intense. The uncertainty was there. Completely random surprises were there. And, there were a few opportunities to jump at just the right time.

It was during one of these moments, we heard it; faint at first, but then the scraping right outside the front window was definitely there.

At the same time, both Annie and mom looked at me which translated in “you check it out.” So, I mustered my courage, as mom followed close behind me, and quietly opened the door. I looked out and could see nothing. I then started to go out which was quickly halted by a “what are you doing? Get back in here.”

That’s when it happened! Before we had time to debate, the culprit appeared from the bushes. We quickly closed the door as it was the only barrier between us. Out of the shadows, out of the bushes came a …
images SKUNK!!

It placed itself right on the front step to the house. It’s beady little eyes daring us.

We looked at each other and lost it! Our terror resided, but then I realized, “I can’t go home tonight because I’m being held hostage in my mom’s house by a skunk.” How was I doing to explain this one? But, there was no option. There was no way to get out of the house and to my car without going right by it, and who wants to take that chance.

So, I got a blanket and pillow and settled myself on the couch.

As I lay there, I began to think about how often in my life have I let other “stinky” things hold me back. Maybe a bad relationship or job. Fear of failure or fear of success. What other people thought of me or didn’t think of me. Probably more times than I care to acknowledge.

Most of the time the “stinkyness (is that a word?)” sat there, looked me in my eyes, and held me hostage with nothing more than a daring glance and the fear of the possibility of what could potentially happen. Granted it held me hostage in a nice, comfortable place, but it held me hostage just the same.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this was not the time for me to courageously run past the skunk and take my chances, but it did get me thinking, maybe more than it should have.

Maybe, in this moment it’s not necessary to stand against the possibility, but someday soon it might be.

After all of the thinking was done, I smiled once again, rolled over and slept…and dreamt of killer skunks chasing me.

One of Those Stories!

Everyone has those stories. Those stories you keep secretly hidden, only bringing them out at appropriate times, with the right people, or when it has been a safe amount of time you’re no longer terribly embarrassed.

Well…here’s one of those stories.

A few year’s ago, after years of having roommates, I found myself a new home owner with my own place. My sis, also had her own place in Branson, so we found ourselves often tossing a coin to see which house we wanted to stay at for the weekend. This particular weekend, her house won out.

I came in Sunday evening, exhausted from pretending to be a tourist for the weekend and crashed on the couch. As soon as my eyes closed, I heard a rumbling in the back bedroom. I instantly sat up, my brain spinning with am I going to fight, flight, or freeze.

Do I run to a neighbors and call the police? Can I even move? Do I lay here and pretend like I didn’t hear anything? Do I go check it out?

Which do I choose: fight, flight, or freeze?

Fight seemed to win out…kind of…we’ll just call it a frightened courage.

Remember, I was scared, but determined to check it out. I grabbed a lighter off the coffee table. Apparently, I was going to set my intruder on fire. Not my brightest moment.

With lighter in hand, I hesitantly made my way down the hallway. I was stealthy (I say now that it’s over and it makes me feel better about myself). The only sounds were the rumbling still going on and the extremely loud beating of my heart.

I mustered my courage and burst into the room to find … NOTHING!

Now, I begin reasoning with myself because I know I heard something and although I’m scared, I’m not irrational. As I try to reason what is happening, a thought comes to me, “maybe he’s in the closet!”

The beating of my heart increases again as I make my way to the closet. I flick the lighter on (that pains me a bit to admit), turn the knob, and jump strategically behind the door.

And…NOTHING!

I peek my head courageously or hesitantly, however you prefer to view it, around the edge of the door and see nothing but dresses and shoes looking back at me.

But, I know I heard something. Again a realization comes to me, “maybe he’s under the bed.” It was in that moment I learned that courage and stupidity often run a close parallel and I was very close to that line as I “courageously” kneeled down, flicked the lighter out in front of me, and lifted the bed ruffle.

NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING!

But, that’s when it happened. The rumbling began again. With great fear, I slowly and quietly stood up thinking “this is it, this is the end, get your lighter ready.” As I stood up and faced what I was sure was going to be the strongest of foes, I was startled.

There was NOTHING staring me back at me.

That’s when I saw it. Over in the corner of the room, hidden discretely behind the dresser, was a Wal-Mart bag and setting confidently on top of it was my culprit, a bird.

My intruder that set my body, mind and emotions on an elaborate roller coaster ride was a small, non-intimidating creature that was gently prompted to fly back out the window the same way it came.

I went back to the couch exhausted from the day’s activities. As I laid there and contemplated the adventure, I began to smile and thought, “I’m so glad I didn’t call the police.” images